The Dutch government has signed an agreement with tour operators to market tourism activities in 14 counties which form part of the Western Circuit.
The 10-year agreement was signed by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, a department in the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and Lake Victoria Tourism Association.
The parties agreed to jointly explore and market major tourist destination within the 14 counties which include Kisumu, Siaya, Bungoma, Migori, Kakamega, Busia, Kericho, Vihiga and Homa Bay.
Prof Hons Bosser, an expert with the Dutch centre said they will offer expertise in management and marketing to the local private companies.
He said there was need to first explore existing and potential products and have them revamped to meet international standards.
“We have to know the kind of resources we have and make them marketable both locally and in the European markets,” he said.
He pointed out that Kenya is ahead of most countries in tourism, but there was need to make the system more constructive, timely and professional in order to improve business.
The Association chairman Daniel Okumu expressed optimism that the deal will increase the number of tourists to the region in the near future.
Kisumu County Executive Executive in-charge of the Tourism, Dr Rose Kisia said they will tap into celebrities such as award-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o to market the region.
The movie star, who is also the daughter of Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong’o earned global fame when she won an Oscar Award for being the best supporting actress in 2014. She featured in the movie 12 years a slave.
Dr Kisia said that Kenya has not been marketed sufficiently as a tourist destination which means some regions are rarely visited.
“Kisumu County is rich in many other resources other than Victoria. We need to explore and diversify our products into cultural and sports activities in order to earn the county more revenue,” she said Wednesday at Imperial Hotel.
Dr Kisia said that with the devolved governments, there is need for regions to identify more key areas and look at ways of making them sellable internationally.
The county, she said, has identified tourism as agenda number three after agriculture and industries.
She said that they will support the initiative and the counties are also working together to ensure efficiency.
“Governors from the region are working as a team and are supportive of the project. We are going to bring together resources to be marketed jointly,” she said
She also said that they will woo the Kenya Tourist Board to involve them in relevant international conferences to support their projects.
“We want to tell the national government that we will not leave everything in their hands. We should avoid conflict and focus on spurring the industry,” she said.
She pointed out that no budget had been allocated in the ending financial year for running the sector but in the 2014/2015 year, an adequate amount will be set aside.